NASA makes another attempt at reviving Opportunity rover

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Jan 27 2019
NASA makes another attempt at reviving Opportunity rover
HIGHLIGHTS

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have started transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in Mars in an attempt at getting the 15-year-old rover to re-establish contact with Earth

Make your home smarter than the average home

Make your life smarter, simpler, and more convenient with IoT enabled TVs, speakers, fans, bulbs, locks and more.

Click here to know more

The team of engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have started transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in Mars. The commands are aimed at getting the 15-year-old rover to re-establish contact with Earth following the planet-wide dust storm that covered the solar-powered rover’s location last year. The new commands will be beamed to the rover over the next several weeks and will address low-likelihood events that could have occurred aboard Opportunity, which could be preventing it from transmitting. Opportunity’s last communication with Earth was received on June 10 last year.

"We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover," stated John Callas, Project Manager for Opportunity at JPL. "These new command strategies are in addition to the 'sweep and beep' commands we have been transmitting up to the rover since September." With "sweep and beep," instead of just listening for Opportunity, the project sends commands to the rover to respond back with a beep.

The new strategies are designed to address three possible scenarios. This includes the possibility that the rover’s primary X-band radio has failed, or the primary and secondary X-band radios have failed, or the rover’s internal clock is offset. NASA’s press statement notes that a series of unlikely events would need to have transpired for any of these faults to occur. The commands being sent to the rover include one for switching to backup X-band radio, as well as commands to reset the clock and respond via UHF. 

"Over the past seven months we have attempted to contact Opportunity over 600 times," said Callas. "While we have not heard back from the rover and the probability that we ever will is decreasing each day, we plan to continue to pursue every logical solution that could put us back in touch."

The statement also notes that time is of the essence. The “dust-clearing season” which is the Martian time of the year when high winds were expected to clear dust from the rover’s solar panels. The dust is believed to be preventing Opportunity from charging its batteries. On top of that, the Martian Winter is expected to begin soon and the low temperatures might cause irreparable harm to an unpowered rover’s batteries., internal wiring and/or computer systems.

If these commands generate a response, then the engineers will attempt a recovery. If not, then the project team will have to consult with the Mars program Office at JPL and NASA headquarters to determine the next step. 

Videos

Dogfighting in Space with the HTC Vive VR Headset MWC 2016  Digitin
logo
Digit NewsDesk

The guy who answered the question 'What are you doing?' with 'Nothing'.

Digit caters to the largest community of tech buyers, users and enthusiasts in India. The all new Digit in continues the legacy of Thinkdigit.com as one of the largest portals in India committed to technology users and buyers. Digit is also one of the most trusted names when it comes to technology reviews and buying advice and is home to the Digit Test Lab, India's most proficient center for testing and reviewing technology products.

We are about leadership-the 9.9 kind! Building a leading media company out of India.And,grooming new leaders for this promising industry.